A Supportive Context

It's not easy to explain briefly the scope of what "Man+Woman" Magazine is about. In various ways it is about the supportive context that enables more harmonious relationships between men and women.

First responders target urgent priorities

It's only natural that we respond firstly to urgent priorities. For example, when we think of marriage counselling we naturally think first of couples who are really struggling with their relationship and in danger of divorce. When we think of sexuality and youth we tend to think first of those engaging in or being harmed by bad behaviour, and try to address those issues.

Once we have made some reasonable attempt at addressing such matters, we naturally think next of prevention. How can we help people from getting into these bad situations to begin with? So we focus on educational and motivational efforts to try and get people to give attention to the weak points before they have actually broken down. All this is obvious and natural.

A larger context

Meanwhile, all this is happening in a larger context. While some are having problems, others are doing alright, or at least getting by tolerably well. There are factors that influence some people adversely while the same factors don't have much effect on others. Some people are better able to cope on their own, while others need more active support. The whole picture is complex and multi-faceted, so that it can be hard to get your mind around the whole thing.

However, this larger context sets the conditions in which people succeed or fail. Many of the factors shaping these probabilities are large scale and often have greater hidden effects than we realise. For example, the 'Hollywood culture' that promotes and normalises casual sex has far reaching effects. Economic factors that lead couples into lifestyles that are way too busy have a big impact on couples' relationships. Economic factors also make it difficult for many young men to see marriage and family as a realistic possibility. A highly mobile society takes people away from their family support structures, without any adequate replacement.

At the same time a cultural expectation now prevails that the experience of marriage should always be emotionally and sexually satisfying.

Yet this sets the bar fairly high, with much less awareness of what it would take to be able to attain such a goal. The significance of the complementarity of the sexes is often only dimly realised, and people receive little education to prepare them for marriage, or to support them in it. Young people receive little help in developing their masculine and feminine identities, or in understanding the other sex.

The need for communal-cultural action

We tend more easily to see problems from an individual perspective. We see each marriage as a potential success or failure, but without sufficient practical understanding of how such success or failure is a result of this whole array of different factors. We see each young person as needing to be educated to make his or her own way, without understanding just how much distinctively communal effort is needed.

"Man+Woman" gives priority to this larger context and the need for communal and cultural effort. This is why it's a bit hard to explain briefly what it is about. It is not about running a marriage preparation course. It is not about helping young people to learn how to date better. It includes those things, and much more, but the integrating key is this idea of the communal and cultural context. It is not merely a 'left over' category of things that will look after themselves. It is about what still remains to be done after the 'first responders' have done their job.

"Man+Woman" is about the supportive context that needs to accompany the work of the 'first responders'.